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Abu Dhabi Fest To Open With ‘Life of Crime’

Hiam Abbas to be honored with Black Pearl career nod

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival has unveiled its lineup featuring a wide range of works from emerging and established Arab filmmakers, comprising nine world preems from the Middle East unspooling alongside selected entries from the cream of this year’s international fest circuit crop.

Fest will open with a gala screening of U.S. helmer Daniel Schechter’s Elmore Leonard adaptation “Life of Crime,” getting its Mid-East preem after bowing in Toronto.

Abu Dhabi’s seventh edition — the second headed headed by Ali Al Jabri — will also fete Palestinian multi hyphenate Hiam Abbas with its Black Pearl Career Achievement Award.

Abbas, who starred in Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” Thomas McCarthy’s “The Visitor,” and Eran Riklis’ “Lemon Tree,” among other films, made her directorial debut in 2012 with Palestinian frontier zone family saga “Inheritance.” The latest pic in which she stars is Ghazi Albuliwi’s “Peace After Marriage,” which will world preem in Abu Dhabi’s Showcase section.

World preems in the narrative feature competition include Moroccan helmer Hicham Ayouch’s “Fevers,” set in a French slum and “In the Sands of Babylon,” by Iraqi-Dutch director Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji. Egyptian social drama “Villa – 69,” a first narrative feature by Ayten Amin who co-directed docu “Tahrir 2011: the Good, the Bad and the Politician,” will bow in the fest’s New Horizons section. These three works are supported by Abu Dhabi’s film fund Sanad, which means “support” in Arabic.

Among this year’s standouts on the international fest circuit getting their Mid-East launches from Abu Dhabi are Danis Tanovich’s “An episode in the Life of an Iron Picker” and “Child’s Pose” by Calin Peter Netzer, which both bowed in Berlin; Jia Zhangke’s “Touch of Sin,” which launched at Cannes; and Venice Golden Lion winner “Sacro GRA,” by Gianfranco Rosi, which will screen in the Documentary Feature Competition section which is particularly strong this year.

Merzak Allouache, who is considered Algeria’s most important living director, will be honored with the Variety Middle East Filmmaker of the Year award at the fest, where his latest film, “The Rooftops,” a depiction of contempo Algerian society viewed from rooftops in five different Algiers neighborhoods, will unspool after bowing in Venice, along with his first work, the 1976 comedy “Omar Gatlato.”

Fest runs October 24-November 2.

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